This month, Waterfront Video moved inland. After nine years on Battery Street, the business is now located in the former Alpha Graphics space on Shelburne Road. "We're in the little outdoor mall with a post office, a Blimpie and good parking," explains co-owner William Folmar.
He and his 16 employees spent three days in mid-April schlepping 17,000 films, on tape and DVD, across town. Waterfront customers have already been finding their way to the new digs, which are a bit smaller -- 3800 square feet versus about 4400 previously -- and forego the original's retro décor. "It has a different, more modern look," Folmar says. "I'm putting movie quotes on the wall from Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Groucho Marx, Jack Nicholson, Orson Welles, Mae West."
An operation that once opened at the civilized hour of 11 a.m. may soon start as early as 8:30 to attract some of the busy post office's customers with java. "We bought the Rolls Royce of coffeemakers," Folmar notes. "We can even offer cappuccino, latte and espresso."
The change of real estate was not entirely voluntary. Folmar tussled with Burlington officials for years before the city -- after abandoning plans to build a bus terminal at the site -- insisted that he make way for the headquarters of clothing giant April Cornell.
His reluctant eastward migration is wryly acknowledged on the familiar oval sign above the door: A small addition reading "Off the" now precedes "Waterfront Video."
Tom Connelly was heading for a career in communications when he became a "man under the influence" of auteurs such as John Cassavetes (A Woman Under the Influence), Stanley Kubrick (The Shining) and Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver). The 33-year-old South Burling-ton writer-director's first feature, Strangers in the Night, will screen for free at 7 p.m. on May 4 at the Campus Community Theater in the University of Vermont's Billings Student Center.
Shot primarily in Chittenden County last summer on a spare $1300 budget, Connelly's digital-video drama follows the misadventures of three thirtysomething couples as they do a little too much drinking and thinking. They're an angst-ridden lot, alienated from their significant others and each yearning for a vaguely defined future that symbolizes freedom.
Connelly, an upstate New York native, was introduced to the intricacies of cinema in 1993 during a required video production course at a Poughkeepsie community college. That experience convinced him to continue his education at C.W. Post College's film school on Long Island, where he was exposed to foreign-language fare.
"I discovered Robert Bresson, Jean-Luc Godard, the French New Wave," Connelly recalls. "I'd never had that sensibility before."
He also created 16mm shorts. "No Deposit, No Return," about a homeless man who helps a young girl pursued by thugs, was a 22-minute thesis project. Connelly came north in 1996 to join his wife Katie, now finishing her graduate studies at UVM -- where he works as an administrative assistant by day.
While submitting Strangers in the Night to various film festivals, Connelly is currently co-authoring an as-yet-untitled script he plans to shoot in the Empire State's Hudson Valley.
In the Green Mountain State's Upper Valley, a new seasonal showcase is taking shape. From April 29 through May 1, White River Indie Films will unspool 11 documentaries and one work of fiction at the 130-seat Briggs Opera House.
Vermont International Film Festival Executive Director Mira Niagolova has been hired as artistic director of the White River Junction event, which organizers envision would take place over one long weekend every fall, winter and spring.
"The theme this time is ecology, human rights and cultural ideas," Niagolova says. "Unlike VIFF, it's not only films about social concerns."
She has booked an eclectic mix that includes the regional premieres of three thought-provoking pictures: Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire profiles the Canadian peacekeeper -- played by actor Nick Nolte in Hotel Rwanda -- who struggled to stop the 1994 genocide that left at least half a million dead in the African nation. Wheel of Time is Werner Herzog's overview of a Buddhist pilgrimage to India. In Umbrellas, Albert Maysles chronicles a public-art work that Christo and Jeanne-Claude installed on two continents.
Local filmmakers are represented with Nothing Like Dreaming by Nora Jacobson of Norwich, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train by Deb Ellis of Burlington, and Beyond 88 Keys by Sue Bettmann of East Middlesex.
For more info about White River Indie Films, call 296-7000 or visit http://www.wrif.org.